Enhancing your stakeholder management experience

Guest post by Suresh GP

Business Consultant, HP Professional Services –Global Delivery India Center

 

As you are well aware, every project stakeholder (project sponsor, project leader, team member, employees, project manager and shareholders) is different and has a vested interest in the outcome of the projects. Are we doing things correctly to address these expectations or will we continue to have gaps?

 

The following eight aspects will help you toward creating a good stakeholder management experience that results in successful project outcomes.

 

 

1.  Setting the context, objective and expectations—priority number one.

Project kick-off meetings are exciting and everyone leaves energized—but that energy often wanes. stakeholders_1_col.jpgWhile we religiously follow the kick-off meeting for the project assigned, it takes more than simply a meeting for the context, objectives and expectation to sink in. It is worthwhile to have the context, objectives and expectations as your basis for all the discussions of project meeting. As we reinforce them, they become a part of employee internalization and then act as a magnetic compass to shape desirable behavior.

 

When considering your project stakeholders and your expectations for them, remember every stakeholder is different.  Some are looking for a learning experience, some for a challenging task and some are hoping for better networking opportunities. Encourage your stakeholders by listing the benefits of the project to gain the necessary commitment and interest among stakeholders (employees and others).

 

 Courtesy of Oxford Creativity

 

2.  Understand the background, experience and attitude of stakeholders

 

This is a key aspect for every PM to understand the stakeholders better. This is by no means an easy task. There is a huge amount of homework and data to be collected; but in the end it is worth the effort. In the end you can deal better with the respective stakeholders because you have background information and can frame appropriate responses.

 

3. Everybody wants to be a part of the winning team

 

Stakeholders play diversified roles like sponsor, project leader, team member depending on the project.  But one truth remains; they have an earnest desire to be part of a winning project. So as a PM, it is your responsibility to create the mental picture of how important this project is for the organization and your customers. Assure the stakeholders that they have been hand-picked based on their expertise and experience, and there is no doubt that this creates a winning combination. This makes those involved feel empowered and creates a sense of true belonging to the outcome of the project.

 

4. The power and influence matrix is only the beginning

 

We have been conditioned to start the stakeholder management exercise by developing a power vs. influence matrix to determine the necessary people to be satisfied for project outcomes. While this is a good start, it does not address the fundamental aspect of emotional disturbance. Discounting people because they neither have power nor influence only makes the situation worse. Remember, even when the numbers add up – a silent revolt or non-cooperation can break a smoothly running project.

 

5. Communication is key

 

As you know, 90 percent of projects fail miserably due to ineffective communication among the project team and stakeholders.

I have seen more vocal shareholders while some prefer not to disclose anything during a meeting. With this in mind, the communication strategy should have different channels and methods to understand, what each stakeholder mean at a deeper level. More often, this deeper understanding comes through informal coffee talks and personal rapport. While co-location is a boon, most of the time we need to deal virtually with others and so adopt one-on-one calls to personalize the connection. The tone of the communication has to be just right to convey the message without being dictatorial.

 

6. Recognize stakeholder suggestions

 

Acknowledging stakeholders for valuable insights and recommendations is important to successful project outcomes:

  • It sets the tone for people to share and contribute to the success of the project
  • It brings in the concept of collective ownership as a team to make it a success.

In my experience, the biggest insights and recommendations have helped me do Risk Management effectively and be better prepared to steer projects successfully.

 

7. Be open and solicit help

 

Projects irrespective of deal size and magnitude can be demanding.  All projects might need a lot of support and cooperation from stakeholders to turn the course into the right direction. The best way to approach this is to be open to all stakeholders and say, “We have a problem and I need all your support and suggestions to overcome.”  When you give people the freedom to voice for a cause, they participate actively and are willing to take on additional responsibilities.

 

8. Trust and commitment makes it happen!

 

Experience shows that the most complex projects have been successful because of the commitment of stakeholders and their trust in the project leadership. This is a sign of transcending the boundaries and making things happen against all odds. For this to happen, the whole project environment must facilitate open and honest communication without a “blame-game”. If something is not working, it is recommended to condemn the act—not the person—and help them overcome the obstacles. When the PM starts fostering an environment of collective team work and complements, it helps build trust and commitment for winning big!

 

I would love to hear about your experience with project management and stakeholder involvement.  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.

 

Learn more about HP Software and HP Professional Services

Comments
Johnny_Itoh | ‎03-25-2013 03:03 AM

Hi Suresh,

 

It's really a great blog.

 

Based upon my own experience of PM, when I was driving some large projects as PM before, I too encountered such a difficulty to manage/control the stakeholders due to the conflict of their interests and that also made us difficult to keep momentum of project.

 

So, at every time when facing on the stakeholders, I tried to initially indicate "specific/obvious values" of the projects to them per each of their positions/views that would exactly be the reasons/motivations (and carrots) to them why the projects needed to be proceeded and succeeded, stating from WHY not from WHAT/HOW...

If the stakeholders could not be convinced well enough, the project must slow down, so I totally agree to your described perspective of the importance of stakeholders management.

 

With warm regards,

 

Johnny

Leave a Comment

We encourage you to share your comments on this post. Comments are moderated and will be reviewed
and posted as promptly as possible during regular business hours

To ensure your comment is published, be sure to follow the Community Guidelines.

Be sure to enter a unique name. You can't reuse a name that's already in use.
Be sure to enter a unique email address. You can't reuse an email address that's already in use.
Type the characters you see in the picture above.Type the words you hear.
Search
About the Author
This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.


Follow Us
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation